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Authors: M.J. Trow

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‘If you hadn’t been quite so offensive, Max,’ Jacquie scolded, ‘he might have told us where the Modern Languages Department was.’

‘Me?’ he swallowed the Everton mint in disbelief. ‘It was you flashing at him like that that scared him off. Anyway,’ he eased himself out of the passenger seat, grateful to be stretching his legs at last. ‘Trust me, lady, I’m a teacher. Seen one bog-standard comprehensive, seen them all. This way.’

They strode across the building’s frontage. Maxwell was right. Seen one, seen ’em all. Hampton was clearly built by the same architect who built Leighford, a sort of idiot savant but without the savant. It was two tower blocks, probably not the sort of thing J R R Tolkein had in mind when he was writing, all glass that sweltered in the July sun. Open a window and the wind whips open the venetian blinds, those useless gadgets for which the Venetians should be ashamed of themselves. Close them, and a class of thirty can suffocate in three minutes.

‘It’ll be down here,’ Maxwell said, sliding with accustomed ease down a once-grassy bank now worn smooth and brown by years of bikes and skateboards, neither of which, of course, was allowed on school premises. He managed to retain his balance and a modicum of dignity before reaching a very large plastic sign that read ‘Science’.

‘Ah.’

And it was back up the hill again. A paper aeroplane flew on the wings of the afternoon to land at the feet of the Great Man. Maxwell bent to pick it up.

‘It’s a Spad,’ he said, looking at the shapeless bit of paper. ‘First class aircraft designed for the Richthofen Circus back in the War to End All Wars. A sure sign it’s come from Modern Languages. And look,’ he held it aloft in triumph, ‘as if to prove it, it’s made from a French test paper. This way.’

This time, he was right. Beyond the open double-doors, it seemed as if every lesson in the ghastly open-plan milieu was being taught or not, as the case may be, by Janet Ferguson. Jacquie looked appalled, but then, she reasoned, Maxwell would probably be equally stunned if he could see her and the lads rounding up drunks in the good old days when she was in uniform along Leighford Seafront. Both of them contented themselves that it was the last lesson of the afternoon and the end of a long day, not too far away from the end of a long academic year. Maxwell felt smug too – it was nice to know other peoples’ institutions were as chaotic as your own.

‘I can’t help thinking we ought to have reported to Reception,’ Jacquie said. ‘Some eagle-eyed site manager is probably ringing the police as we speak.’

‘Can I help you?’ a big-boned woman blocked the corridor
ahead. She was clearly the school rottweiler, all foam-flecked jaws and attitude, like something out of
The Omen.
For one mad, impish moment, Maxwell toyed with claiming to be an Ofsted inspector, but reason and good sense prevailed; this woman had done nothing to him – it just didn’t seem fair. Anyway, before he could react at all, Jacquie’s warrant card was in the air.

‘We’d like to see Mr Rodrigo Mendoza, please,’ she said.

The rottweiler noticed the wire haired bloke with the detective hadn’t shown her his card too. Perhaps you didn’t have to after a certain age. Perhaps it was just as well; all Maxwell could have flashed was his library card and NUT membership documentation – all in all, nothing very remarkable among the staff of a high school.

‘Rodrigo?’ the woman repeated. ‘Why? I mean, he’s not in any trouble, is he?’

‘I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to tell you that, Mrs…’

‘Appleton,’ the rottweiler said quickly. ‘And that’s Miss.’

No surprises there, thought Maxwell.

‘I’m Head of Modern Languages.’

For a moment, Maxwell thought of introducing her to Julian McConnell, two miserable linguists together. But he relented; Mrs Julian McConnell was a pleasant woman, when all was said and done. Let sleeping dogs lie.

‘You’d better come this way.’

She led the pair past a battery of computers, which Maxwell noted with a self-satisfied air were older than those at Leighford, and into a marking room, strewn with papers and clapped out old teachers of languages.

‘Rodrigo,’ Miss Appleton took them to a solid, good-looking
lad deep in a book in the corner. ‘These people are from the police.’

The good-looking lad got up.

‘Rodrigo Mendoza?’ Jacquie had the warrant card in her hand again.

‘Yes,’ the lad frowned. ‘What is the trouble?’

‘We understand you are a friend of Juanita Reyes?’ she asked him.

Mendoza noted that various colleagues seemed to be doubly engrossed in whatever they were doing, timetable finalisation at one desk, exercise book marking at another. ‘I am,’ he said. ‘Is there a problem?’

‘We have reason to believe,’ Jacquie was in full Force mode by now, ‘that she has gone missing.’

Mendoza beckoned the couple into an anteroom, piled high with old coursework and dingy coffee cups. ‘You mind if we make this not so public?’ he asked.

‘Of course,’ Jacquie nodded and waited until they all sat down as best they could in the cramped conditions.

‘Do I understand you?’ Mendoza asked, concern all over his darkly handsome face. ‘Juanita is missing?’

‘We haven’t seen her for some days,’ Jacquie said.

‘Does Mrs Troubridge know? You have spoken to her landlady?’

‘Yes, we have,’ Jacquie said. ‘Juanita’s bed has not been slept in. And Mrs Troubridge believes none of her clothes have gone.’

‘But this Mrs Troubridge, she is an old lady, yes?’

‘How well do you know Juanita, Mr Mendoza?’ Maxwell asked.

‘We are friends,’ Mendoza told him. ‘Two strangers in a strange land.’

‘You knew each other back home in Spain?’ Jacquie asked.

‘No, no,’ Mendoza shook his head. ‘Juanita, she is from Menorca, uh? I am from Barcelona. I have been in this country two years now. Juanita, she has been here for less.’

‘How did you meet?’ Jacquie asked.

‘At a…what you call…bash? We have email link-up between all us language teachers in the county.’

‘So you know Carolina Vasquez at Leighford High?’ Maxwell asked.

‘Carolina?’ Mendoza repeated. ‘Yes. She is an assistant and I am a qualified teacher, but yes, I know her.’

‘Another friend?’ Jacquie checked.

Mendoza smiled. It made him, Jacquie had to admit,
drop-dead
gorgeous. ‘We have to hang together,’ he said.

Maxwell smiled too. Living down the Armada must be a bitch. ‘Do you have a contact number for Juanita? He asked. ‘Her mobile doesn’t answer.’

‘I have email address for her computer,’ he said.

That was the laptop Jacquie had noted in Juanita’s room. She hadn’t wanted to get into all that until now, but now might be the time. ‘When did you see Juanita last?’ she asked.

Mendoza pursed his lips in thought. ‘It must have been three, four weeks ago. There was a party here at Hampton. I called her and asked if she would like to come. She said yes.’

‘The party was here at school?’ Jacquie wanted to know.

‘No,’ Mendoza chuckled. ‘You don’t know English schools,’ he said. ‘They are not places that make you want to have parties.’

Maxwell did, of course, and he couldn’t agree more.

‘No, we have a party at a local golf club. Our Vice Principal is a member.’

‘How did she get here?’ Jacquie asked. ‘Did she drive?’

‘She come by train,’ Mendoza said. ‘But I did not want her out late, so I took her home.’

‘You drive?’ Maxwell checked.

‘Oh, yes,’ Mendoza told him. ‘I have just about got the hang of the right and the left now. Look, is Juanita in any trouble?’

‘We don’t know, Mr Mendoza,’ Jacquie said. ‘We hope not. Do you have her home address?’

‘No,’ he shook his head. ‘I did not know her that well.’

‘Past tense, Mr Mendoza?’ Maxwell asked.

‘I wish the children I teach had your grasp of English,
señor
,’ he smiled. ‘I am sorry. I mean, I
do
not know her that well.’

 

‘Bloody Hellfire!’ Jacquie shouted as a white van snarled out of nowhere, cutting her up along the A259. ‘I can’t see a bloody thing in this sunset.’

‘Don’t knock it, dearest,’ Maxwell felt his heart slither downwards from his tonsils again. ‘In other contexts, it’s a gorgeously romantic sight, a ball of fire sinking into the sea, rather as the heat of my love is quenched by the endlessness of your caring…’

He looked across at her and they both burst out laughing.

‘You old fart!’ she rubbed his knee. ‘That’s why I love you. Pass the vomit bag.’

‘And on a more prosaic note,’ he said, ‘where would any of
us be if the bloody thing went out; the sun, I mean.’

‘Where, indeed?’ Quantum Physics and the Meaning of Life weren’t exactly Jacquie’s thing. She changed the subject. ‘What did you make of the Spanish connection?’

‘Well set-up chap,’ Maxwell shrugged. ‘No doubt all the girlies in Year Ten line up to swoon over him. Bet there’s been a huge take-up in Spanish GCSE this year.’

‘I was thinking more of his relationship with Juanita.’

‘I bow to your expertise, darling heart,’ he told her. ‘Do you smell a rat?’

‘Not at all,’ she said. ‘But I am beginning to think that dear Juanita might not be all we thought she was.’

‘Meaning?’

‘Meaning, we didn’t know about Don Rodrigo. And neither did Mrs Troubridge.’

‘Jacquie,’ Maxwell sighed. ‘Mrs Troubridge was at school with Boudicca. There could have been a whole queue of men standing in Mrs Troubridge’s garden to service Juanita and the old besom would never have noticed.’

‘I suppose you’re right.’

‘You don’t fancy going the pretty way, do you?’ he asked her.

‘What?’

‘Via the Point?’

‘Now, Max,’ she frowned. ‘Pam has had Nolan now for the best part of twelve hours.’

‘And when he’s Prime Minister and King all rolled into one, she’ll dine out on it for the rest of her life. Come on, it’s only ten minutes.’

It was. Jacquie’s car roared off the A259, making for the
Shingle. The little lights of evening were beginning to show now, dotted on the headland, whose ridges and furrows had merged to form a mass of dark, like the hump of a huge whale. It would not be totally black for a couple of hours yet, but the shapes of the day had gone. Willow Bay lay like a pale crescent below them, tiny dots of people still scampering on the surf booming along the breakwaters. Tired children still squealed happily as the light died and the odd glow and wisp of smoke marked the places where their parents were equally happily scorching bits of meat on their temporary barbecues.

Then they were on to Ringer’s Hill and turning into the car park high over the sea. There was a solitary car parked there and a middle-aged couple were standing by the bonnet, enjoying the view and the comparative solitude, like one of those corny ads for life insurance on the telly. Did they know that yards away, under the overhang of the gnarled oaks, the police cordon ribbons still fluttered, marking the shallow grave of a small time crook? It was all so incongruous somehow.

Jacquie and Maxwell nodded as the couple turned, both a little annoyed to have their tranquillity shattered. Not a courting couple, surely, the tourists thought – he was old enough to be her father. Under the canopy, the ground was uneven, pock-marked with the print of a thousand rubber boots. Dead Man’s Point was on the ‘Walk the South’ route every autumn when the rain turned the path to torrents in places. Out on the headland, the air was chill now that the sun was dying. They had ducked under the tape and stood on the edge of the pit as the SOCO team had excavated it.

Maxwell squatted on his heels, picking up handfuls of soil
and watching it fall. Out to sea, beyond the curve of the Bay, a solitary liner, like a ghost ship in full sail, slid noiselessly, lit like a magic lantern against the purple bars of the clouds. He straightened, looking back to the car park, then to his left to where the sandstone fell away to the cliffs. The edge was near, beckoning. He’d only once felt that before, when he’d gone to visit a friend in Bristol and found himself on the suspension bridge at Clifton. He felt it then, drawing him down. How wonderful it would feel to sense the air rush through your veins, how free. He sensed it again now, with his feet on the shifting sand of Dead Man’s Point and the sea unreal and silver in the twilight fifty feet below.

‘Max,’ Jacquie held his arm. Suddenly, she was afraid. And she didn’t know why. ‘Max, let’s go home.’

Tuesday. Tuesday. Hate that day. At the dog-end of an academic year, with three weeks to go to ‘School’s Out for Summer’, it had to be said that Leighford High was a strange place. Year 13 had gone into that vast abyss of deck-chair attendancy, ice-cream salery and other part-time jobbery that was the lot of teenagers around the coast of this great country of ours. After that was the Gap Year and the great Tony Blair university scam – walker? gum-chewer? You’re in. Year 11 had gone too, albeit temporarily. Most of them would be back come September when the grapes were purple and the season misty and mellow. They would have achieved what they set out to achieve, not a clutch of five A grade GCSEs, but the James Diamond–given right to wear non-uniform clothes. And they would automatically become Maxwell’s Own. There was a certain irony in the fact that the member of staff at Leighford most conversant with uniform should be in charge of a bunch of misfits that didn’t wear any. The new Year 7 of course had yet to join, wandering goggle-eyed around the scruffy corridors, meeting up again with the very people who had bullied them in junior school. There was a God.

And God, that particular Tuesday, was Peter Maxwell. He sat in his film-postered office with the Fridge beside him. All
right, it was very unkind of someone to have called Helen Maitland the Fridge, but even Maxwell, in a darker mood, could see the relevance of it. Helen was positively rectangular, but with smoothly rounded corners and she habitually wore white. That said, Helen was the salt of the earth, Maxwell’s Number Two. When the Great Man wasn’t there, she was, sorting EMA contracts, teaching GNVQ courses, handling PMT problems; that woman could acronym for England.

‘You do realise, Anthony,’ Maxwell was saying, ‘that we allow you to bring your car onto the school premises on the assumption you know how to drive it.’

‘Yes, sir.’

Anthony Cross knew when he was on the carpet. He’d learned his body language subconsciously from Maxwell and stood there, hang-dog and not making eye contact. He’d screeched out of Leighford High’s car park yesterday, doing a wheelie in his clapped out Peugeot,
and
he’d abandoned half the carton content of the town’s KFC on the tarmac. A flogging offence at the very least. Maxwell thought that too.

‘If this was a real school,’ he growled, ‘I’d have you paraded in hollow square, with the whole establishment looking on to witness your punishment. You’d be tied to the triangle, stripped to the waist and thrashed soundly by the male PE staff using the iron-tipped leather thongs of a cat o’ nine tails.’

He paused while the image sunk in.

‘As it is,’ he went on, ‘I’ll take your keys, please.’

Anthony fumbled in his jeans. Anybody who didn’t know Peter Maxwell would have refused to hand them over, muttering about human rights. This was theft, this was, taking a bloke’s car. It was only overnight, of course. And
Anthony would have the humiliation of catching the bus home. Or worse, he may have to walk. But Anthony knew better than to argue. Ever since Year 7, he’d been locking horns, on and off, with Mad Max and the crafty old bastard had won every time. Anthony’s dad knew better than to mix it too, since the Head of Sixth Form could quote every law since Hammurabi to prove he was in the right. And anyway, Peter Maxwell had once taught him, too.

‘It’s only because you’ve been in my Sixth Form for the last twenty years that I’m letting you off this lightly. Now…on yer bike!’

The thumb said it all. It would be a cold day in Hell before Anthony drove at anything faster than minus one again. And he’d take his KFC home with him next time.

The lad all but collided in the doorway with a
fraught-looking
Carolina Vasquez.

‘Mr Maxwell, Mr Maxwell,’ she blurted. ‘It’s Rodrigo Mendoza. He’s gone missing.’

 

‘Well, it’s really none of my business, Max.’ Helen was passing her boss a well-earned coffee. It was the Time of the Wall, the wilting hour at the end of the day when teachers either collapse or drift into oblivion or have to be padlocked into their strait-jackets. It was that window of no opportunity after the kiddie-winkies had gone home and before Mrs B arrived with her mops and brooms and vacuum polishers. And peace shall come to Leighford High.

‘No, that’s not a problem, Helen,’ Maxwell said. ‘Thanks. It helps me get my raddled old brain around what’s going on. From the top, then…Jacquie and I “inherited” Juanita, so to
speak, from a family in Tottingleigh. Their circumstances had changed so the girl wasn’t needed. The reference was glowing. Juanita had her green card; everything was hunky-dory. Our neighbour, Mrs Troubridge, had a spare room and welcomed the company, so it couldn’t have been better. Nolan took to her straight away – even my old bugger of a cat seemed to tolerate her in his usual grumpy sort of way. Then she buggered off.’

‘Just left?’ Helen frowned.

‘Apparently. We still don’t know whether she took any of her clothes or not, but she certainly didn’t take them all. They’re still hanging in her wardrobe. Jacquie’s checking the girl’s computer as we speak. But there’s nothing helpful on it. Usual emails, in Spanish, of course. I’ll have to get Janet or Carolina on to them.’

‘Don’t you have an address? In Spain, I mean? That’s the most likely explanation, surely. She’s just gone home.’

Maxwell chuckled. ‘I knew you’d have a scientific,
down-to
-earth approach, Helen. That’s why I keep you on. That and your irresistible coffee.’ He pulled his usual face. ‘This
is
coffee, isn’t it?’

Helen hit him with an old exam paper. ‘I bet you say that to all the Assistant Year Heads, you patronising old bugger. Don’t tell me you hadn’t thought of it?’

‘I’d thought of it, yes,’ he said. ‘But I haven’t got it. Menorca is all I know. A little island in the Balearic group, evacuated at the time of Lepanto.’ He reached forward and patted her hand patronisingly. ‘That’s 1571, by the way.’

‘Bog off,’ she growled. She and Maxwell had been doing this for years. She’d be heart broken if he ever stopped talking
down to her. And as for Peter Maxwell, having the Fridge as your right-hand woman in the mad circus that was Leighford High wasn’t a bad thing at all, appalling coffee or not.

‘No, the Hendersons probably have it. I might nip over there when I’ve downed this.’ He took a sip. ‘Nectar.’

‘So where’s that darling boy of yours while you’re sitting there enjoying my coffee and my company?’

‘Mercifully for all of us, Jacquie met up with this lady called Pam – short for Epaminondas, I shouldn’t wonder – in her Maternity clinic. Well, between the heavy breathing and sticking their elbows in bowls of tepid water, they got on like a house on fire. She and her husband live out towards Fyleigh and the babies are quite happy to kick seven kinds of shit out of each other, so we tend to drop him round there at the moment. It’s good of Pam, she’s one of those people they used to call “a brick” in the 1930s – before brickage became synonymous with stupidity, that is.’

‘So how do Carolina and this Mendoza bloke fit into it all?’ Helen asked.

‘Well, I’m not exactly sure,’ Maxwell confessed. ‘Juanita was having English lessons with Carolina, and no doubt they’d meet up for a jar or whatever the Spanish equivalent for girlies is.’

‘Sangria,’ said Helen solemnly, past-mistress as she was of package-deal holidays to Iberia.

‘No doubt,’ Maxwell nodded. ‘Rodrigo Mendoza teaches Spanish at Hampton. He knows Juanita too. Stands to reason, doesn’t it? All the continentals hanging together, as he put it.’

‘And he’s vanished into thin air.’

‘Well, there’s vanishing and vanishing.’ Maxwell could be a
cryptic old fart when the mood was on him. ‘Carolina seemed upset.’

‘Hmm,’ commented Helen, talking of cryptic.

Maxwell caught the nuance and raised an appropriate eyebrow. ‘And what does that mean, Assistant Mine?’

‘Well, I don’t pretend to know the girl very well, but there’s something about her. I don’t know. A bit
too
simpering, don’t you think?’

Maxwell nodded. ‘She crawls against walls and prostrates herself in obeisance when I enter the room,’ he’d noticed. ‘I don’t have a problem with that.’

‘Perhaps toadying is what young women do in Spain,’ Helen suggested.

‘Come on, Mrs Maitland, she’s a young kid in a hostile land. Living by herself, coping with all the little hellraisers in this place – and the kids. And all of it in a foreign language. If I could reach my hat, after the day I’ve had, I’d take it off to her.’

‘Yes, all right,’ sighed Helen. ‘And as vicious, unfeeling bastards go, you’ve got a bloody soft centre, Peter Maxwell.’

‘That’s why I let you interview the sobbing girls,’ he winked at her. ‘But it doesn’t help me with my Spanish problem.’

‘I think you’re right,’ Helen finished her coffee. ‘This family – the Hendersons? They might know something. God, is that the time? I’ve got a barbecue tonight. Whose bloody idea was that?’

Now Mr Maitland was a quiet, retiring mouse. Very nice as quiet, retiring mice went, but quiet and retiring nonetheless. So Maxwell knew the answer to that one straight away. ‘That’ll be yours, Helen,’ he said.

 

The sun was still a demon as Maxwell and Surrey took the Tottingleigh Road. It was along here that the High Flyer from Portsmouth had rattled east in the golden days of coaching, postillions blasting for shepherds to clear the way and toll keepers to haul upright their turnpikes. That, of course, was then and tarmacadam and No Overtaking signs had replaced the smooth-cobbled camber and the well-worn ruts of wheels. Progress. You’d have to argue with Peter Maxwell about that.

Maxwell had met the Hendersons before, but never
chez-ont
.
He was genuinely impressed by the sweep of the drive and the rhododendron garden. For a moment, as usually happened in these cases, Maxwell flushed scarlet in the Marxist sense and became a stolid member of the
lumpenproletariat
, but the moment had gone by the time he reached the front door, and he was himself again. The place itself was neo-Georgian, with the accent on the neo in that Mr Henderson was a builder who seemed to own most of Sussex. The ghastly twice-life-size wild boars sejeant on either side of the Doric doorway gave a sort of clue that more was more to Mr Henderson.

He rang the doorbell, half expecting a solemn-looking butler in frock coat and Gladstone wing collar to be standing there, asking him pompously for his card and inquiring whether, as it was after three of the clock, this was a morning call. As it was, it was Mrs Henderson, rather more dowdy than Maxwell remembered her, peering around the leaded panes at him.

‘Peter Maxwell.’ The Great Man swept off his cap with a flourish. Fiona Henderson looked him up and down, taking in the cycle clips and the wild, barbed-wire hair that had just
been blown to Arthur Scargill proportions by the breeze along the Flyover. Perhaps they should rename it the Combover? ‘We met in May,’ he reminded her. ‘Took your Spanish au pair off your hands.’

‘Mr Maxwell, of course.’ Fiona Henderson was not an unattractive woman in a builder’s wife sort of way. She had a very well coiffured head of auburn hair, not natural like Jacquie’s, but rather old copper and definitely from a bottle. Once she’d recognised her visitor, she seemed to relax and straightened so that she was nearly his height. ‘Won’t you come in? Is there a problem?’

Think of every naff piece of interior décor you’ve ever seen and you’ve got the picture that faced Peter Maxwell that lazy, hazy afternoon. It was as though Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen had had a nervous breakdown and had been given about three minutes to redress a house. Not that the stuff was cheap, far from it, but it simply lacked class.

‘I was out by the pool,’ she said. ‘Can I get you a drink?’

It was Mint Julep weather and Peter Maxwell was a Southern Comfort man deep down, but he went for the middle ground. ‘I’ll just have a glass of water, if I may.’

‘Ice and lemon?’

‘Kind.’

The pool was about the size of Leighford High School, rather distressingly in the shape of a kidney. Giant plants that seemed to be hand-me-downs from Kew loomed at every angle of the building and the sun beat mercilessly on the sliding glass roof. It was like a mini Millennium Stadium. Maxwell found himself reclining on a steamer-chair which had the word ‘Titanic’ stencilled boldly on the back. Tasteful.
Mrs Henderson was actually quite a striking figure,
figurewise
– or was it the weird light thrown from the pool? The water was impossibly blue, like the eyes of the actor Max von Sydow.

‘Cheers, Mr Maxwell,’ she clinked her White Russian against his glass of water.

‘Lang may your lum reek,’ Maxwell toasted, although it was clear that the Henderson house had never seen a chimney in its life.

‘Now,’ she sat on the steamer-chair opposite, crossing her legs at the ankles like the memorial brass of some crusader. ‘Juanita Reyes. Is anything the matter?’

‘Well,’ Maxwell winced, as he swallowed too much ice and his life flashed before him. ‘I wondered if you had her address?’

‘Address?’ She blinked. ‘You mean in Spain?’

‘Yes.’

‘Mr Maxwell…where
is
Juanita?’

It was time for the man to come clean. ‘Well, that is rather the problem, Mrs Henderson; I don’t know. She left a few days ago and no one appears to have seen her since.’

‘Really?’ the woman straightened slightly before burying her nose in her glass again. ‘Isn’t that rather unusual?’

‘I’d say so, yes,’ he told her. ‘So I’m wondering if I could contact her or at least her family.’

‘But if she’s not there,’ Fiona Henderson reasoned, ‘Won’t that alarm her people?’

‘If she’s not there, Mrs Henderson,’ Maxwell said, ‘I think they have every right to be alarmed. Can you tell me how you came across her?’

‘Yes. Like you, we answered an advert in the
Leighford Advertiser
. Gerald – you’ve met my husband?’

Maxwell had.

‘Gerald is away a lot on business and Katie was becoming a bit of a handful. If I remember rightly, Juanita came to us from an agency in London. Gerald and I arranged to meet her there. It was all very formal, all very professional. Gerald did the paperwork.’

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